Toto Wolff and Frederic Vasseur talks about the 11th F1 team joining the grid and if it should happen or not.

The British GP saw the filming of raving scenes for the Brad Pitt racing film. A fictitious team were APX GP and they had the 11th garage in the pits at Silverstone. But over the last while, there have been rumours of an 11th team for real on the grid with multiple outfits applying for that spot.

The application for applying has ended already and there could be confirmation anytime soon about the potential teams to join whether one or two. But there has been resistance from the current teams for various reasons where the financial aspect is the big point.

“Yeah, pretty much unchanged,” said Wolff. “I mean, we have no visibility of who the applications came from, and what the proposals are, I think all the stakeholders – and I think mainly the FIA and FOM – will decide on such a new entry, will assess if the proposal is accretive for Formula 1?”

“What does it bring us in terms of marketing and interest, and whether they want to think about introducing that. Our position was very clear: buy a team. But you know, there’s a lot of consequences. When you look at qualifying sessions, I mean already now we’re looking like on a go-kart track, we’re tripping over each other. There is a safety concern: we haven’t got the logistics, where to put an eleventh team”.

“Here in Silverstone, we can accommodate the Hollywood people but on other circuits, we can’t. Then people like Audi and the venture capital funds, have been buying into F1 teams for considerably higher valuations. And so all of that is a picture that the FIA and FOM have to access. And, as I said before, if a team can contribute to the positive development of Formula 1, then… and in a way that the other teams have done, over the many years, have suffered over the many years… yeah, we have to look at it.”

To this Vasseur added: “For once, I’m pretty aligned with Toto, that first you can’t compare the impact of the movie and the impact of a team. Have a look at what happened last week. It was already a mess in Spielberg on track, with the track limits. Imagine if you have 10 per cent more infringements”.

“But more seriously, we didn’t change at all the position, that I think it could make sense for the F1 only if it’s a huge push in every single direction. Very often we are speaking about the nationality of the team but for me it’s absolutely not an argument. F1 is not just a UK championship because we have 70 per cent of the teams based in the UK. The attractivity of the F1 is much more based on the nationality of the drivers and so it’s nothing to do with the nationality of the team.”

They both have made valid viewpoints and it sounds to a degree like they want to keep the Status Quo at 10. Valid points regarding track numbers but up to 30 F1 cars could be on track in practice or qualifying back in the day although the current grid could see 24 cars at one point. But both seem keen for a new entrant to purchase an existing outfit.

“We have a huge boom around the F1 but you have to keep in mind a couple of years ago the owners of the team made a huge effort, when the crisis was there, and it’s a kind of benefit today – but again, if there is a huge push for the Championship, for the F1, for everybody, all the stakeholders. Why not? But I don’t see we’re at that point today,” said Vasseur.

New F1 teams on the grid be it one or more would always have to prove themselves in some ways but at the same time, they will always be an unknown quantity at the outset and they will not know and nor will the other 10 Constructors how they will do until testing and practice. Other sports, namely the NHL have added teams (franchises) to their sport over the years and with success.

“There is no mature sports league in the world, whether it’s a national football championship, or the Champions League, the NBA, the NFL, the NHL, where such situation is possible, where you say I’m setting up a team and I’m joining, thank you very much for making me part of the prize fund,” said Wolff. “You have to give to qualify; you have to go through the ranks; you have to showcase the commitment to the Championship that we’ve done over the many years”.

“But, to repeat what I said, and Fred, if it’s creative, then we must look at it. So far, what we’ve seen hasn’t convinced the teams – but we haven’t seen the applications and submissions that were made to the FIA and to Stefano, and they will judge whether that is positive for Formula 1 or not. But in any case, from a teams’ owner side, is there no leagues which just increased the entries, because that just dilutes the whole league. I think if it’s accretive then obviously not. The NHL has added teams and I’m very aware of it, because they have decided to do so, all the stakeholders. We have done that in the past when Formula 1 was on the brink of losing teams, because of bankruptcy”.

“We increased the numbers of teams and nobody complained about that. On the contrary. We felt that we needed to make sure that we have 10 teams on the grid and not lose any. So these two factors are very different with the NHL to the current situation. And for the second point: I still have the belief that this is a league of franchises. And when someone comes in, then it should be like in the NFL, where you say what is it that the new team brings to the party? And that, I repeat, is for the FIA and FOM to decide. We can comment from the sidelines here and obviously our standpoint is clear, because we would only want to have a team that brings something to the cake, like you say, and an 11th team brings more than what they cost the other team, more show, more exciting drivers and like Fred said, the team’s nationality plays no role”.

“We have an American team since a long time, we need to have a good points system that we attract more drivers from the US, that we make them eligible for a Super Licence. We need to support young drivers like Logan Sargeant to give them enough time. Because like we’ve seen with Fernando in Spain, you’ve got a race at the front. If you’re not racing at the front your fellow countrymen are not going to follow.

“These are the things we have to do. And if one of the applications has demonstrated to the FIA and to FOM that it is beneficial that they join, we can just stay welcome, you know. At that stage, we have to embrace the decision that’s been taken and say, OK, let’s work on this together,” summed up Wolff.

An 11th or 12th F1 team would be interesting but back in the 1970s and 1980s the grids were stacked with cars. From the start of the 1982 season, 26 car grids were commonplace with the recent grid seeing 20 cars mostly.

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